16. May 2023 · 2 comments · Categories: Domestic

Most importantly, my daughter and Wee Jamie, the Wonder Grandson returned from the visit to California this morning … very early this morning, as I had to get up at half-past one in the morning, to meet their train, which was supposed to arrive at 2:40, but which didn’t actually pull into the station and begin off-loading passengers and baggage until well past 3:00. We weren’t home and settled until about half-past four in the morning, and our next-door neighbor’s caretaker, Miss Eileen, was sitting in the open garage to meet us. Miss Eileen’s dog, a charming but bossy little Shi Tzu named Angel apparently woke her up at that ungodly hour, and Miss Eileen thought that Angel had to pee. She went out to the garage in her pajamas since Angel demonstrated that she simply had to go out that way. Miss Eileen looked towards our driveway and noted that the Montero was not parked there. Just as she thought of us, I drove the Montero around the corner and pulled into our driveway.

Miss Eileen now wonders how Angel knew that we were on our way back at that very moment. Angel is a young dog, and rather fond of all of us, besides being excessively devoted to the main human in her little doggy life; Shi Tzus are like that. Being bred to be affectionate companion dogs, they are never happiest until the moment when they are glued to their chosen human. Although Angel is also affectionate towards my daughter, Wee Jamie and I. She barks when she hears my front door open, and Miss Eileen is sitting in the garage with the door open, enjoying her coffee and morning cigarette. I usually make a comment along the lines of ‘hark, the herald Angel sings’ or ‘the better Angels of our nature’. My daughter had brought Miss Eileen a box of specialty See’s chocolates from California, so she was able to transfer them at once. Miss Eileen has raised sons and thinks the world of Wee Jamie. She came to San Antonio to be caretaker for her aunt, our neighbor since we moved into this house – a dear sweet retired and elderly civil servant who now is suffering with progressive dementia. As someone about my age once grimly remarked – unless one is extraordinarily lucky, after a certain age, either the mind or the body goes.

It is a peculiarity of Amtrak service in San Antonio, that departures and arrivals are all in the very wee hours. I have entertained the possibility that the staff of the adjunct to the historic and very scenic Sunset Station are all vampires, since everything happens at night … but none the less, traveling on a train, if you are in no particular hurry, or with children, and going to and from a city with an active passenger terminal – a train may be the less fraught way to go, even if only in coach, the lowest and cheapest class. The seats are wider, movement is freer about the car, baggage allowances are more generous, and there isn’t anything like the security theater to endure. And if one springs for a roomette or a cabin in the sleeper coach – even more comfort. And free meals. My sister and her husband sprung for such, this year, so that my daughter could bring Jamie out to meet what remains of the family, supervise the care of my mother while their family took a break at their Hawaii condo – it worked out generally well. My daughter and Wee Jamie had a compartment to themselves and got upgraded to a first-class compartment on the return, a compartment with a toilet attached, since it seemed that their originally-booked roomette had been double-booked. Someone among the staff on the Sunday Amtrak from Los Angeles Central Station realized that it would best to placate an irate woman with a small child in tow, intent on returning home to Texas, on a reservation that had been done and paid for, months ago…

Anyway, on some of these midnight excursions, I sometimes wish that Amtrak would re-open the historic Sunset Station as a facility for serving passengers going east and west, instead of the mean little shed tucked away by the Alamodome. Alas, passenger train traffic isn’t anything what it used to be, in the golden age, and Sunset Station has been repurposed into an event venue. A very nice one, actually – I covered an event there, some years ago.

Several of our neighbors wondered about the perils of going downtown, in the wee hours – and I must admit that going to the Amtrak station in the pit of the night in San Antonio is probably degrees of safety greater than most other big city-downtown-train terminals at 0-dark-thirty. The Amtrak terminal may be small and out-of-the-way in regard to the rest of downtown San Antonio – but it is safe, there is relatively secure parking, and it is patrolled by security.


  1. The middle of the night doesn’t sound like much fun, but I’m glad all went well. I think the last time I took the train anywhere was from Philadelphia to New Haven for my brother’s graduation, back in 1989.

  2. No, not much fun – but everyone got home and tucked into bed … and slept until past 10. Amtrak is lovely, especially if a) on a scenic route, b) not in a hurry and c) with a roomette or a sleeper compartment. Were I traveling with a family, it would be the way to go.